A Kawasaki Z1000 Tracker with classic taste
Words/Photos | Jeremy Hammer/RIDEJOURNAL
When a professional bike builder takes on a personal project, you know the end the result is typically going to be something pretty special as they take full creative control and direction of the build, minus the client brief.
For our very own Billy Kuyken, that is exactly what he was able to do with his 2006 Kawasaki Z1000. Turning the modern-day sports bike into a Street Tracker with a classic feel wasn’t a number one priority for Billy, it was more so an avenue for him to explore his creative senses in between client projects.
The build comes as the next instalment following Rogue’s ‘Hooligun’ Suzuki DRZ400 Tracker, and this bike is no exception to the incredibly unique motorcycles that have been crafted by the Belgian native.
“When I finished the DRZ, I was looking to do another personal build,” Billy explained. “It’s good working on everyone else’s bikes, but you can’t really choose exactly what you want or where to go with the build. So with you’re own project, you can make the all the decisions completely on your own.
“I bought the Kawasaki Z1000 a year and a half ago, and I got this one because it has a steel frame – it’s a modern sports bike, but it doesn’t have the large aluminium frame. So you can see the engine, and you don’t see a big lump of frame – it’s basically what you want if you want to make the bike look good.”
The Japanese manufactured bike has been heavily transformed from its original aesthetic, and one of the key modifications is the custom tank fabricated by Billy. It’s a concoction of the standard unit and a Suzuki GS1000 tank, both of which have been sliced in half and then welded together.
The speedometer has also been recessed into the tank alongside the fuel cap, and as the tank was already cut open, he was easily able to fabricate a box for the unit, while also routing a pipe through both the top and bottom sections to allow for the wiring.
“The tank [in standard trim] is almost triangular, so instead of completely changing the tank, I cut it in half and basically kept the bottom half. That way, it still has the fuel pump and all the rubbers to fit around the bike. I sourced a replacement for the top half, which ended up being a Suzuki GS1000 tank.
“I cut that open as well, and that fitted fairly well on top. I obviously had to weld a bit of a band around the tank – it was a big job, especially placing the speedometer in it. The speedo went in there because it was similar to the fuel cap in terms of shape and dimensions.
“There was less work in wiring, and I have to keep the work down to a minimum because it is my own bike. Once I had the GS tank cut open, I was able to weld in a box for the speedo with some laser-cut brackets. It also needed a pipe for the wiring, and that kind of had to go with the top and bottom of the tank together.”
The tank in its completed form has been coated with a drop of black paint with chrome flaking, and finished off with elegant striping on the outside edges, which also glow in the dark. A Rogue helmet logo has also been placed on the sides of the tank.
The rear-end has also been modified with a classic hoop, which has then been fitted with a custom seat constructed by BeyondTrim. The seat itself is a design combination of both creatives – Billy and Andrew.
The pair were able to throw ideas back and forth, and it resulted in a beautifully crafted black leather seat, complimented by a white stripe on the rear edges along with three eyelets on either side. To make it even more intriguing, Billy has integrated the taillight into the seat as well.
“I wanted black paint because the wheels are black, and I wanted something like a chrome black. The logo is just a Rogue one that I came up with, and it’s got glow in the dark paint – if it’s really dark, then you can see it.
“It’s got a Tracker seat on it, but I wanted something more than just a black seat. Andrew from BeyondTrim, when I bring him a seat for a customer, he always says ‘why do they always want brown or black, do something crazy’ [laughs]. He said I should put some white in one of my seats one day, so I came up with a drawing and played around with some colours and designs.
“I wanted some rings or something on the side, so I asked Andrew to put something there. As for the taillight, it took me some time to find the right one. I got it from England, and it took a few weeks before I had it. I’m quite happy with the seat.”
Billy is particularly fond of the unique headlights, which is something he is renowned for. The dual halo lights add to the unique flair of the bike, and they’ve been fitted with a top cover made from a front fender, which he describes as a ‘hat’ for the LEDs.
“I just really like the halo lights – about 10 or 15 years ago when I was doing the Street Fighters back in Belgium, I made a set of headlights the same – they’re called dominators, which are two, four and half inch lights bolted together. I had to modify the buckets of these lights to make them fit, but they work really good.
“The cover on the top is actually a left over fender off a chopper – it was too short to do anything with it, and it actually fits just over the two lights. I made them a little hat [laughs], now it looks like WALL-E.”
The engine has remained relatively untouched, and so have the exhaust headers, while only slip-on mufflers have been fitted to further enhance to aesthetics and sound of the motorcycle.
Billy’s plan was to keep this build on the simple side of things in order to keep labour time to a minimum, but after nearly a year, he admits it’s already gone further than what he initially had in mind.
“The pipes are just aftermarket stainless-steel mufflers, and because I left the exhaust manifold how it was, I had to make some slip-ons. But also, just to keep the labour to a minimum.
“It took me around eight months to a year to get it done – I’d work on it one day, and then a month later I’d work another day and so on. I think I already went further than what I was initially planning [laughs].”
The finishing touches also include a neat custom front fender, aftermarket bars and MotoGadget indicators and grips.